Government agencies hold an enormous amount of information about each one of us personally and also of a more general kind. This information is in many forms. Personal information is contained in files, reports and computer records. General information is contained in reports, submissions, manuals of procedure and rules. It is on the basis of this information that government agencies make the decisions that affect our lives. It is therefore very important that citizens have access to such information. However, there was never any general right in law to have access to information held by government agencies, and it is only with the advent of freedom of information (FOI) legislation that citizens have such a right.

In 2009, the Tasmanian government passed the Right to Information Act 2009 (Tas). This replaced the Freedom of Information Act 1991 (Tas). So, in Tasmania, we now refer to freedom of information as the right to information. In addition to the Right to Information Act, there is also the Right to Information Regulations 2010.

The legislation

The Legislation

The Right to Information Act 2009 (‘the Tasmanian Act’) is a comprehensive Act, defining the boundaries of citizen rights to access government information, where that information would not be available without a request. This includes:

  • procedures for applications for disclosure of information 
  • assessment of applications
  • reviews of decisions
  • government agencies or bodies that are exempt from disclosure obligations
  • the public interest test
  • offences under the Act
  • protection against civil and criminal prosecutions and
  • directions to the Ombudsman over guidelines for processes and factors to be taken into account in assessing information disclosure requests.

The Regulations set out the minimum information to be contained in an application for assessed disclosure, and the minimum information to be provided to an applicant by a public authority.

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